Classroom Book Awards Part 1


Categories have been named, nominations taken, ballot created, and students have voted for the fifth annual Sharpies (our class book awards).

Today we announce favorite: author, middle grade novel, graphic novel, read aloud, and picture book.

I knew that this was going to be close, but I had no idea that we would have a 3-way tie. Each of the three nominated authors recieved 8 first place votes.

Katherine Applegate


Raina Telgemeier

Tom Angleberger



June 27th Book Club: The One and Only Ivan


Mr. Schu and I had a gret time hosting a Marty McGuire book club in May. We loved it so much, that we decided to do it again in June.

Please join us June 27th at 8 P.M. EST for our book club chat about Katherine Applegate’s, The One and Only Ivan. We hope to see you there!

I didn’t realize while I was filming that people reading this post would know what book we picked based on the title. Knowing that before you watch the video makes the video seem a little silly.



Marty McGuire Chat Recap


Before you check out the Marty McGuire chat archives I think you should think about reading Mr. Schu’s Interview with Kate Messner.

Wasn’t that interview amazing? Did you just preorder Capture the Flag? I did.

Now be sure to check out Nerdy Book Club award winning author Kate Messner’s Nerdy post.

I love Kate’s Nerdy post. Actually, I love everything Kate writes.


On Wednesday May 23, Mr. Schu and I hosted a Twitter book club. Our topic was Marty McGuire. I would like to thank everyone that took time out of their busy lives to celebrate Kate’s book with us. I had a blast!

Chat Archive


A Sample of The Love From the Marty Chat

libraryreeder Love the references to Jane Goodall! Wonderful role model for young students. #MartyMcGuire #MartyMcGuire-7:06 PM May 23rd, 2012

MrSchuReads Like all of @KateMessner’s books, Marty McGuire is a perfect read-aloud. #MartyMcGuire -7:06 PM May 23rd, 2012

donalynbooks I would have loved Marty when I was 8. I never wanted to be a princess. #martymcguire -7:07 PM May 23rd, 2012

KateMessner @sweetpea1273 I know quite a few kids like Marty. I’m a mom to one. (Heck, let’s be honest-I’m still a lot like Marty myself!) #martymcguire -7:07 PM May 23rd, 2012

librarybrods My 4th graders found a toad in the park today and I couldn’t help but plug Marty to them! #martymcguire -7:07 PM May 23rd, 2012

mentortexts I love how Marty has ideas and follows through with them – even if maybe she should think twice. Love her go-for-it-ness! #martymcguire -7:08 PM May 23rd, 2012

heidihuestis #martymcguire promotes mucking around and getting dirty. Dirt helps the imagination, I think!#Martymcguire -7:10 PM May 23rd, 2012

CurtisLibrary1 Thanks to my friend @sweetpea1273, I rushed to read #martymcguire this weekend! Handed it to a 2nd gr teacher as soon as I finished!! -7:12 PM May 23rd, 2012

KateMessner When I do school visits, kids love hearing that I kissed a frog for my research. #NotSoSlimyAfterAll#martymcguire -7:23 PM May 23rd, 2012

libraryjo92 The worm bin in the 2nd book is going to be a perfect read aloud for my school’s green day next year.#martymcguire -7:30 PM May 23rd, 2012

akgal68 I like that Marty is like her mother #MartyMcGuire -7:30 PM May 23rd, 2012

kkilpatrick7 I love my grandmas, but they were nothing like Grandma Barb – that would have been cool #Martymcguire -7:39 PM May 23rd, 2012

mentortexts Every librarian now needs #martymcguire books and Starbursts… -7:42 PM May 23rd, 2012

Reading Along I-94: See You at Harry’s, Part 4


*****SPOILER  ALERT!!!!*****

JEN: This is our last discussion of See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles, but maybe the most exciting because Jo herself is joining us! Welcome, Jo!

COLBY: Hi, Jo! Thank you for See You At Harry’s.

JO: Hi Jen and Colby! Thanks for including me in your final chat. It’s been a lot of fun reading your thoughts about the book, and also about life in general.

JEN: The whole second half of the book is about how Fern and her family deals with Charlie’s death. It is always hard to read about the death of a character, but I think part of the brilliance of this story is that so much time is spent reading about how they work through their grief.

COLBY: I’ve been very blessed to not have to deal much death in my life (knocks on wood). It’s hard for me to relate to how characters would feel and grieve. For me, one reason, children’s literature is so important because it helps me understand how kids feel in these difficult times. I need to be able to have some idea of what it is that kids are feeling, because my readers in my classroom are dealing with all sorts of difficult things. Reading helps me help my students.

JO: Thanks, Jen. I rewrote this section so many times, trying to balance their grief with the inevitable tug of life moving on around them. Colby, I love how aware you are of your students’ home lives and what they might be dealing with outside the classroom. Your description is a perfect example of how books make us more compassionate, whether intentional or not.

JEN: I had a super scary experience last week with my almost-two-year-old. (He will be two in July.) He fell and his hit head really hard in our driveway but got up and was acting fine. Then, we were running up and down a hill in our backyard and he plopped down on his butt…and then he stood up and starting crying. I scooped him up and watched as his eyes rolled back into his head and he lost consciousness. It was the scariest thing I have ever seen. I immediately yelled  for my husband to call 911. An ambulance trip, an ER visit, a CT scan, and hours later, we were so relieved that everything was okay. The neurologist thinks he had some kind of post-traumatic seizure from the fall in the driveway. It was such a huge weight off of my shoulders to know he was okay.

COLBY: Seriously, I can’t imagine experiencing what you experienced. Especially after reading See You At Harry’s. I’m so glad your little guy is okay. I would have totally been freaking out.

JO: Oh no, Jen! That is terrifying. I’m so relieved that he’s OK! And that you had him checked out.

JEN: I know! I have to say I was so much hyper-aware of how important it was that we have him checked out after reading See You At Harry’s!!!

Now, I can think about how I reacted at the time and other times my kids have been hurt. I’m the kind of person who becomes completely calm in a crazy situation – it’s like the emotional part of my mind just turns itself off. I know I have to be focused and clutch in the moment. It never crossed my mind that I was holding my dear sweet bean in my arms and that he might not be okay. All I could think was what I needed to do: what I needed to tell my husband to tell the dispatcher, what I need to tell my older son to make sure he wasn’t scared, where I needed to go to meet the ambulance, that I needed my wallet. And I stay that way until things are settled down…and then I fall apart. Hours later, when my son was finally sleeping and we knew he was fine and things were going to be okay, I could feel the gravity of the situation and cry for how grateful I am that things turned out alright.

COLBY: You have mad mom skills. It’s amazing how our body’s take over when we would think that our minds would fail us. You were everything your family needed at that time. Bravo, friend!

JO: Yes! Good job! I remember when my son was about two years old, he was sitting in his high chair eating apple pieces. It was Christmas Eve. All of a sudden he started to choke. I stood up, got my arms in position, and performed the Heimlich as if I had done it a thousand times (actual times=0). In a twist of fate, just that week I had been working on a first aid booklet for the company I wrote for. So it all clicked in. But I was so calm and mechanical and the apple just popped right out. Later though, after we’d had him checked and he was fine, I fell apart.

JEN: It’s amazing how we can just go change modes like that. It’s a good thing, too!

For me, reading about Fern and how she handles Charlie’s death reminded me of myself. At first, she seems just shocked and numb to his death but then it starts to really sink in. As she goes through the motions of her life after he dies, she realizes times when she really misses him. I respond to things after the fact, it’s the days afterwards when I think about how things could have gone differently or how I miss someone who was in my life that are the hardest for me. For me, this book spoke to me because I could recognize how I grieve in Fern’s response to Charlie’s death.

COLBY: For me, reading See You at Harry’s made me think so much about Ralph Fletcher’s Fig Pudding. I feel that See You at Harry’s is taking what Ralph did to the next level of readers. I’m so glad Jo wrote this book.

JO: I really need to read this book! Thank you for the recommendation. When my own brother died, my family was in total shock. None of us knew how to react or respond. It was like all the noise around us was sucked out and we were moving around in this numb silence. It took a long time before the outside noise could filter in again, and when it did, it felt like everyone around me was speaking a different language. My whole perspective on life flipped, and it took a really long time for me to learn how to function in a world that didn’t stop for anyone else, as it had for us. It was so hard to accept that life goes on because we were in such pain and anguish, it felt like it shouldn’t. Or couldn’t. But… it does somehow. Mette Ivie Harrison wrote a blog entry comparing her grief to the grief depicted in the book. It’s a really powerful and insightful reflection:  

JEN: I requested Fig Pudding from my library because you asked me to read it and I agree that there are definitely connections to be made with See You At Harry’s. My favorite quote is when they talk about how people cope with death: “‘Everybody reacts different to something like this – some people cry buckets, other folks store it up inside. When someone you love dies, you get a big bowl of sadness put down in front of you, steaming hot. You can start eating now, or you can let it cool and eat it bit by bit later on. Either way, you end up eating the whole thing. There’s really no way around it.’” p. 107

I also completely agree about being thankful that Jo has written this book. She really takes the big family dynamics to another level and really looks so closely and thoroughly at grief. I am a more sympathetic person because of this book but I also was able to think about how I am in times of crisis or with dealing with grief. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize that we don’t all react in the same way but it’s an important lesson.

Thank you, Jo, for writing this book!

JO: Thanks you two, for having me! It’s been such a treat to listen to you discuss the book. I am so glad, as I’m sure your readers are, that the two of you are out there sharing books with kids. Your students are incredibly lucky to have such thoughtful, caring and sensitive teachers! Thanks for doing what you do!

All Pro Dad Breakfast


Each month, at my school, we host an All Pro Dad Breakfast. From 7:30-8:30 fathers and their children: eat breakfast, talk, and complete a lesson together. It is great fun. I decided to bring start an All Pro Dad chapter because I was looking for a way to get fathers more involved at our school.

The program has been a success. Each months we host and feed bewtween 40 and 80 fathers and 60-100 students.

I try to make everything in my school reading centered. This year I have been as cheap as possible when purchasing breakfast foods, so that for our final breakfast we would be able to give each student a book.

Today is our final breakfast and I am so excited to hand each reader a new book. Below you will find pictures of some of the boks we will be giving out.

















May Title Talk: Graphic Novels


On Sunday, May 27, at 8 P.M. EST, Donalyn Miller and I will host this month’s Title Talk. This month’s topic is graphic novels. We hope you join us for an hour of discussing how to effectively use graphic novels in the classroom, as well as great graphic novel titles.

For more information on how to participate in Twitter chats please watch the video below. If you have any questions please leave a comment and I will try to help you. We hope to see you at Title Talk.

Reading Along I-94: See You at Harry’s, Part 3


Week 1

Week 2

*****SPOILER  ALERT!!!!*****

JEN: Well, we have come to the sad part. In case people reading weren’t forewarned, this is a super sad book. It doesn’t start out as a sad book, but it does get super sad – like, all-of-a-sudden, sit-yourself-down, grab-a-box-of-tissues sad. I felt really bad when I got your text over the weekend telling me how sad it was.


COLBY: So sad, Jen. So stinking sad. The whole time reading it felt like something sad was going to

happen, but it was still heartbreaking and shocking when Charlie died.


JEN: I seriously kept thinking the whole thing was going to be about Fern helping Holden. 


COLBY: I adore Fern and Holden’s relationship. They do such a great job of looking out for each other.


JEN: They do do an amazing job of looking out for each other. I like how there is so much that they communicate with each other that is unsaid, but at the same time, when it’s time for them to talk about things, they are able to be honest with each other. 


COLBY: Holden and Fern’s relationship makes me wish that I would have been closer to my siblings when I was younger. As the oldest, I just kind of did my own thing, and kind of ignored my siblings until I was older. :(


JEN: I have a cousin who is three years older than me and her and I used to hang out together. I think because I had her, I didn’t spend as much time really bonding with my sister. It’s really hard to be honest with other people. I feel like it’s hard to come to a place where it’s okay to be honest and know you won’t hurt the other person’s feelings. Either the person doesn’t realize what you realize or doesn’t want to accept the truth you are going to tell them. It’s the same way when someone is honest with me, if someone tells me something that wasn’t even on my radar, it completely blows my mind. I have to stop and rethink everything. Or if they tell me something I really didn’t want to believe was true, it has the same effect. Sometimes I would almost rather not face the truth of things.


COLBY: I think it is so weird when someone that I don’t feel that I am super close with, shares something with me that I would NEVER share with them. It makes me feel so uncomfortable and I never know what to say.It makes me happy that I’m not on Facebook.


JEN: So you are thinking more along the lines of just talking about personal things…I’m thinking more of something like, “I know you think those pants are really cool but they totally make you look like you walked out of the 70’s. And not in a good way.”


COLBY: Do people say things like that?


JEN: i feel like friends can say that to people, or my husband will say that kind of stuff – in a totally NICE way, in a completely honest way, in a way that they mean to help me realize something that I’m completely oblivious to, but it’s still makes me feel bad sometimes. It’s just hard to hear the truth sometimes, as much as afterwards, I’m (usually) grateful.


COLBY: I am 100% non-confrontational. I don’t do awkward. When awkward situations come up on television, I leave the room. I can’t handle it.


JEN: I agree, I tend to avoid confrontation at all costs, but isn’t it funny that we connect being honest with being confrontational? I have to have a super honest conversation with someone today and I have no idea how to start but at the same time, I feel like I’m not being fair to myself or this other person if I don’t talk about this. I don’t mean for it to be confrontational but something has to change and I have to be honest about my feelings in order for it to change. I don’t think it will become a confrontation or an argument or anything like that, but I am so worried about how to be honest without hurting this other person’s feelings.


COLBY: Good luck. I don’t do that stuff well.


JEN: Neither do I! It is so hard. I think that’s why it is so awesome to read about characters like Fern and Holden who are able to be honest with each other. Fern is an awesome sister for pushing Holden to talk with her and let her into the side of him that he keeps guarded from others. I’m glad she doesn’t give up on him.


COLBY: One thing that I really love about Holden is that he tries to protect Fern and shield her from the issues he faces. They complement each other well.


JEN: They really do. He is a strong character. I like how Fern makes sure he knows she is there and she will support him and that he doesn’t have to go through it alone. I loved listening to an author panel talk about bullying at IRA. The authors were Rita Williams-Garcia, Heather Brewer, Siobhan Vivian, and Jay Asher. They all had great messages to share but Heather Brewer spoke from some very intense experiences that she had growing up. Her main message was that it’s so important for anyone who is being bullied to know there is someone there who will listen and who is willing to hear their story. After hearing that, I was thinking of how Fern supports Holden in that way. She makes sure he knows she is there for him and that he doesn’t have to be alone in what he is dealing with.


COLBY: Being heard is so important. Sometimes our jobs as teachers is to be the one that listens, and other times it’s to find the right book that will allow the student to feel that they are not alone.


JEN: Yes! I completely agree, and that’s exactly what Heather Brewer said, too. She said books were an escape for her. She could read about other kids who weren’t going through what she was going through. It was very powerful to hear her speak. I had a huge epiphany last night about myself and reading. Even though I don’t feel like I’m escaping into books…it is like I’m being able to focus on things that aren’t my life at the same time so I guess it is escaping when I read. Sometimes all my everyday things are not what I want to think about, so being able to read about anything that’s not my everyday life is so great. Even though I make connections with my life as I read, it’s not directly about my life and I love that.


COLBY: I never thought about it like that. Pretty much all of my reading is kid lit, so it’s not exactly like I’m reading about people my age and people like me.


JEN: But you still grow as a person by reading and discussing kidlit. I rarely read adult books but even when I do, even if they are very similar to my life, they just aren’t my real life. I think books speak to the creative and imaginative part of my mind. It’s the difference between having conversations about paying bills and needing to water the plants to having conversations about wanting to someday visit the Eiffel Tower and loving when I went camping with my grandparents as a kid. Reading and talking about books is an escape in that way because it’s not a paying-the-bills kind of conversation. BUT at the same time it does give us access to looking at and growing who we are when we are in paying-the-bills mode. The hard but honest conversation I have to have today has nothing to do with the topic of the conversation Fern and Holden had – but they have inspired me to be more confident and to feel more strongly that this conversation has to happen and I have to be the one to make sure it happens. I love books!

Babymouse and Marty McGuire


Mr. Schu and I could not be more excited to host our Marty McGuire book club tomorrow, May 23. We are so excited that we made a video. In the video we also talk about the Babymouse for President contest hosted by Nerdy Book Club. Enjoy!


While filming our video we also had the opportunity to snap this picture for the Babymouse photo contest with our friend Travis Jonker.

@100scopenotes @mrschureads @colbysharp